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Nonfiction Reccomends
Nonfiction Reccomends
#1
I recently came across the most fascinating thing: an autobiographically account of one of the men behind the evolution of rocket science in America. 

But what's really great about it is that it was written in a manner that is very accessible to the layperson.

Even the introduction by the dearly missed Isaac Asimov was hugely entertaining, where he uses the following bit to describe the author of this book:


Quote:Now it is clear that anyone working with rocket fuels is outstandingly mad. I don't mean garden-variety crazy or a merely raving lunatic.  I mean a record-shattering exponent of far-out insanity.


Is it any wonder why I want to get into the field of Aerospace Engineering?

Oh, and let's not forget the author's dedication:


Quote:This book is dedicated to my wife Inga, who heckled me into writing it with such wifely re-marks as, "You talk a hell of a fine history. Now set yourself down in front of the typewriter — and write the damned thing!"


The book is called Ignition! - An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants.

And best of all, you can get it as a nice and cleanly scanned PDF here: https://library.sciencemadness.org/libra...nition.pdf
Yasuri Nanami is my number one waifu, if only because she would horribly murder all the others if they didn't shut up and toe the line.
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#2
Based on a brief excerpt from Ignition! I've read, I'll second the recommendation.  The author, John D. Clark, was talking here about a horrifically dangerous substance known as chlorine trifluoride:

Quote:It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that’s the least of the problem.  It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured.  It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water — with which it reacts explosively.  It can be kept in some of the ordinary structural metals — steel, copper, aluminium, etc. — because of the formation of a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride which protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminium keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere.  If, however, this coat is melted or scrubbed off, and has no chance to reform, the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire.  For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes.

Note particularly the remark that the many things chlorine trifluoride will set on fire include "test engineers"....
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"The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that this was some killer weed."
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#3
This sounds like the writing of the guy who did the "Things I Won't Work With" blog articles. That's probably as good a recommendation as anyone can give sight unseen.
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‎noli esse culus
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#4
(11-05-2019, 05:01 AM)classicdrogn Wrote: This sounds like the writing of the guy who did the "Things I Won't Work With" blog articles. That's probably as good a recommendation as anyone can give sight unseen.

I first ran across the quote I gave in his (Derek Lowe's) blog, under the title "Sand Won't Save You Now."  Lowe decided Clark's advice about "running shoes" was sound.
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"The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that this was some killer weed."
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#5
So apparently he thought it sounded like his articles too. Keen.
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‎noli esse culus
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#6
Oh, I love that blog. The entry on Dioxygen Diflouride was hugely entertaining, especially the bit about him completely running out of expletives while reading one particular series of papers written by a particularly enterprising chemist.  I’ve gone blank on his name, but he had actually been tasked to find out exactly how it reacts with whatever happens to be lying around.  Something that the man had seemingly taken to with unusual gusto.
Yasuri Nanami is my number one waifu, if only because she would horribly murder all the others if they didn't shut up and toe the line.
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#7
Including sulfur compounds, which IIRC is why he ran out of expletives. Because sulfur, being oxygen's bigger brother, reacts with more energy with... most things.
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#8
I'm going to suggest The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It's switching gears from engineering into biological sciences. But it's really well written. And the events it describes are kinda weird. Basically, I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading non-fiction, and not some sort of magical realism book.
--∇×v⃑
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#9
I'd suggest "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies_My_Teacher_Told_Me
“I really hope I’m behind this convoluted mess; at least that way I’ll be able to get revenge by doing this to myself. I won’t even have to feel bad because it’ll be all my fault.” - Harry Potter, The Master of Death by Ryuugi.
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#10
Do make sure you get the second edition or later on that one, because of course he accidentally perpetuated some lies in the first edition.
--∇×v⃑
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#11
Quote:The first option is no doubt an admirable one, but if that's your choice, then you're reading the wrong book. Let's talk about option two.

From chapter 1 of how to, by Randall Munroe (ISBN 978-0-525-53709-0), a book that tells you how to (amongst other things):
  • sell the seats on an airplane while it's in flight
  • catch a drone
  • move house
  • not move house
  • build a lava moat
  • dispose of a book

The book does not, however, tell you a foolproof method for making friends.
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Rob Kelk

"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of the same sovereign, servants of the same law."
- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012


"Don't let anyone think for you; most people can barely think for themselves."
-
Rare Earth, ending credits
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#12
For those wanting to get a youngster interested in science, Isaac Asimov wrote a number of essays back in the day that are excellent reads, if somewhat simplistic from the perspective of a modern college STEM education. They're aimed at 8-15 year olds or adults who lacked that kind of education. Collections of them were published with titles such as Adding A Dimension, The Secret Of The Universe, and so on. Mostly out of print now but great reads.

Connections, by James Burke, is great for a holistic perspective on history, how discoveries build on one another and are driven by local needs. This is the volume that inspired the famous TV series.

If naval history is your thing, I recommend Blind Man's Bluff by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, and America's Secret Submarine by Lee Vyborny and Don Davis. These are excellent histories of submarine espionage during the Cold War. Blind Man's Bluff is a great overview and goes into detail on the missions of USS Halibut, while America's Secret Submarine focuses on the construction, sea trials, and missions of the NR-1 and life under Admiral Rickover.
Sucrose Octanitrate.

Proof positive that with sufficient motivation, you can make anything explode.
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#13
I highly recommend the book What Stands in a Storm, an incredibly harrowing account of the 2011 tornado Super Outbreak and the effects it had on the people who lived through it. It's an excellent book, but be aware--it can also be an emotionally hard read at times, so keep a box of tissues nearby.
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RE: Nonfiction Reccomends
#14
Evan S. Connell was a writer of novels, short stories, poetry — and several non-fiction essays of a generally history / sociology-oriented nature.  The Aztec Treasure House is a 2001 collection of the latter, twenty of them; eighteen had been previously collected in The White Lantern and A Long Desire.  I've quoted at least one of these essays elsewhere on this site.

Talking about Henry Rawlinson climbing a precipice to copy an ancient Persian inscription:

Quote:Visualizing him at the top of a rickety ladder propped on a rock ledge 300 feet above the ground, with a notebook in one hand, meticulously copying some little wedge-shaped marks—seeing him in that position one is reminded of other nineteenth-century English men and women:  Mawson and Shackleton at the South Pole, Franklin in the Arctic, Fanny Bullock Workman in the Himalayas, "Chinese Gordon" in Egypt, Mary Kingsley having tea with cannibals, Lady Hester Stanhope costumed as a Bedouin riding in triumph through the ruined streets of of Palmyra.  Faced with such people, one can't help thinking that the nineteenth-century English must have been utterly bonkers.

Talking about Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, mentioned in the previous extract:

Quote:Now the predicament in which he found himself is absurd; if it appeared on a movie screen the audience would cackle and hoot.  The old Saturday serials used to conclude like this:  our hero inextricably, fundamentally, unconditionally, and grievously trapped.
Here is what we have.  We have Sir Douglas, harnessed to his sledge for easier pulling, dangling at the end of the rope.  Below him the camera reveals a bottomless gorge.  Above him the sledge has caught in deep snow but at any instant it may break loose.  If that happens Sir Douglas will plunge into frozen eternity.
He is exhausted by his ordeal, having already outlasted two other men.  He is dizzy, freezing, poisoned, and half-starved.  His feet are not just killing him, they are literally falling apart.  He is alone in the Antarctic, the grimmest place on earth, no help within miles.  Even if somebody should come looking for him, which nobody will, he could not be rescued because he could not be found.  He is out of sight—invisible—not figuratively but actually out of sight, dangling below the surface of the glacier.
So there you have it, a real disappointment.  Pauline's perils were nothing.  And Sir Douglas certainly thinks he has enjoyed his last bowl of dog-paw soup.
You may wonder how he got out.
Don't miss next week's episode.

Essays include discussion of pre-Cro-Magnon hominids, the Etruscans, Vikings reaching North America, the Children's Crusades, Prester John, the Northwest Passage, the origins of the Atlantis story, alchemy, and the conquistadors' gold-hunting.
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"The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that this was some killer weed."
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